Changes at the UMW Philharmonic

This made the news recently, in my local area. It would be best to follow the link to the news article before reading the rest of this blog.

UMW will not renew contract Philharmonic Orchestra conductor Kevin Bartram

I was asked by my private students what I thought of this situation. Especially since I teach bass at the University now. So, here it is.

Some of my best students came out of the years when I was running the Virginia Bass Forum and students had access to interactions with successful artists, AKA “celebrities”.

There’s a reason they are “celebrities”; they are successful in the arts. I’ve found that exposing my students to these kinds of interactions was a positive thing overall. It helped some of them get a road map for a career in the arts together… something they don’t teach in the local schools.

From that time period; one student of mine graduated and went on to have a piece performed by the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. Another one just graduated with his Masters degree from Eastman and has been auditioning for major orchestras all over the country. Another friend talked over his career path with one of the guest artists I had during a private lesson. That person decided to leave the area and become a military musician. There are some other stories, but I’ll leave it at that.

And apparently, having “celebrity” artists for the orchestra is now considered a bad thing. Which leaves me asking…do any of the people who are making these decisions FOR the orchestra have a career in the arts? Or understand that networking is an important aspect? Access to these successful artists is invaluable for the students’ careers. To say they performed with Itzhak Perlman or Joshua Bell. And to have access to learn directly from other successful artists who have made a career for themselves in the arts? I’ve seen a great impact in having these opportunities for my own students, and in my own national/international bass community.

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